little paths so startled

living, decorating, and eating in hattiesburg, mississippi

freshly shelled black-eyed peas

leave a comment »

My sweet grandmother shelled black-eyed peas and gave us a bag this weekend, and we couldn’t wait to eat them. Like good (vegetarian) southern folk, we like them served with a dollop of veganaise and pepper jelly. (Don’t judge till you try.)

And perhaps unlike many southerners, we think fresh black-eyed peas don’t need to cook in animal fat to taste delicious. Instead, we lightly sautéed a small sweet onion in a bit of canola oil, then added the peas and just enough water to cover them, and simmered them till they were tender. We added fresh-ground black pepper and the tiniest dash of salt at the end.
The result is some seriously good southern comfort food that really isn’t bad for you. It’s even more heavenly with cornbread, and my guilty pleasure is mixing it all up on my plate. Bon appetit, y’all!


Written by Ann

August 5, 2013 at 3:37 pm

new digs (hattiesburg edition)

with one comment


We’re finally settled in our new place, and after rearranging furniture, oh, about ten times, I seem to have found our feng shui.  Or at least for now.  The biggest challenge was transitioning from a 1,400-sq-ft open loft space to a 700 sq-ft 1920s-style bungalow – the back half of a duplex, to be precise.  My sweet parents are storing several pieces they and my grandmothers had lent us (two tables, two club chairs, and six dining chairs), but amazingly, everything else fit – including the pallet table.  And while there are certainly things I miss (a dishwasher, the other 700 square feet, and a washer and dryer), there’s a lot to love about the new place.  My favorite things: the lovely eastern and southern light, windows in every room, white walls, and craftsman details like bead board and built-in nooks.

The Living Room

This is my favorite room – it’s the largest, and it has the best light.



It’s Kyna and Buddy’s favorite room, too.


This is also the room I rearranged the most, because it does double-duty as my home office.  It took many configurations and, ultimately, a trip to the Calico Mall to get my little nook worked out.

Some of the early takes.

Some of the early takes.

As much as I love that sewing table (also a Calico Mall find), it’s really best as a console table.  So I was thrilled to find a little mid-century modern desk for super cheap, and while I hadn’t planned to buy a chair, I couldn’t leave without this little blue Eames-esque desk chair.  It needed a little DIY love, though, as someone thought it’d be nice to spray paint it with sparkles.  Daniel covered it with several coats of a slightly darker, non-sparkly blue.  Et voilà.


The Halls

I’d gotten so used to our open loft that hallways seemed like a waste of space to me, and I admit that the long hallway here felt claustrophobic to me at first.  Now that we’ve hung pictures and discovered some valuable storage opportunities, I’m feeling their charm again.

That's technically the breakfast room, but it's so tiny that we're using it as a hallway nook.

That’s technically the breakfast room, but it’s so tiny that we’re using it as a hallway nook.

Looking down the hall from the living room end...

Looking down the hall from the living room end…

...and back up.  (That's a tiny, unfinished closet that happens to be perfect for storing cleaning implements.)

…and back up. (That’s a tiny, unfinished closet that happens to be perfect for storing cleaning implements.)

The Study/Music Room

This room (amazingly) hosts the pallet table, which currently functions as Daniel’s desk and is perfect for spreading out plant specimens for identification.  The room also has a tiny closet we’re using as a coat closet (and everything else we can cram in there).  And since the room also houses Daniel’s tools, I hung a throw over an open shelf for storing tool-related odds and ends.


While most of the room is a working botany lab, there’s a little corner for music.  I’m especially happy about storing guitars on the walls.  In this place, it’s all about vertical storage.


The Kitchen

When I first saw the turquoise backsplash and floors in the kitchen, I could have freaked out a little.  But instead, I thought of all our red kitchen appliances, and I decided to embrace the quirkiness.  And I actually really love the turquoise and red.  I also love that there’s plentiful cabinet space (including that semi-awkward nook by the water heater).


And once again, vertical storage is the name of the game.  Daniel had some especially creative solutions: a pallet-wood spice rack, hooks for hanging pots on the wall, and a pallet-wood shelf for storing home-brewing bottles.



Fun fact #1: that’s a Murphy-style ironing board to the right of the doorway. Fun fact #2: we don’t iron. Ever.


It’s tiny, to be sure, but it’s actually not the smallest place we’ve ever squeezed this bed into.


And we even managed to recreate the windowsill succulent arrangement, though now they’re on the outside (and happier).


The closet situation is interesting (and currently not photograph-able).  I may have complained about having a small closet in our old place, but this one is truly tiny.  Fortunately, having grown up in a 1920s bungalow with small closets, I borrowed a trick from my parents to maximize storage: over-the-door racks.  There’s one on every door in this house (except the front and kitchen doors).



Last and least.  Or at least a work in progress.  All I’ve done in here (since I took this picture on move-in day) is hang a clear shower liner, stuff the tiny cabinet over the toilet, and stack more baskets on top of that cabinet.  Perhaps more on this soon.


So that’s it – all 700 square feet of it!  I have less than two more months here before I head up to Seattle, but this will continue to be home for me as long as my loves (Daniel, Kyna, and Buddy) live here.

Written by Ann

July 7, 2013 at 4:40 pm

pan-fried sweet potatoes with jalapeño, red pepper, onion, and mushrooms

with one comment

Sunday brunch is the best. It should be decadent; it should be soul-food. But it should also be at least a little good for you, right? This vegan stir-fry is our go-to (and not just for brunch): it’s simple, it requires hardly any seasoning, it makes the kitchen smell amazing, and it’s delicious and hearty.

Pan-fried sweet potatoes with jalapeño, red pepper, onion, and mushrooms
3 sweet potatoes, cubed
1 sweet onion, diced
1 large red pepper, cubed
1 jalapeño, diced, seeds (mostly) removed
1 package mushrooms, chopped
Canola oil
Dash of red wine
Salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste

Heat 2-3 tablespoons canola oil in a large frying pan. Fry sweet potatoes over medium-low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender. Meanwhile, caramelize the onions in another pan in 2-3 tablespoons of oil with a splash of red wine. When sweet potatoes are ready, transfer them into a bowl with slotted spoon, leaving oil in pan. In that same pan, sauté red pepper and jalapeño until the edges are slightly blackened. When onions are ready, transfer them into the same bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving oil in pan. Sauté mushrooms in that pan until they are browned. When the peppers and mushrooms are done, use the slotted spoon the transfer them to the bowl and toss all ingredients. Season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and a dash of hot sauce. Bon appetit!


Written by Ann

June 23, 2013 at 9:17 pm

Posted in eating

Tagged with ,

roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower

leave a comment »


In my last post, I declared dishes that require heating or cooking to be the last thing I’d want in summer.  So here’s me taking that back, because who doesn’t love roasted vegetables?  And especially roasted brussels sprouts?  Yes, running the oven at 400 degrees makes an already-hot kitchen hotter, but at least you don’t have to be in there with it.  I declare this dish to be easy and requiring minimal time in the kitchen with the hot oven: summer friendly!

Because I also love cauliflower, I used this recipe.  I knew it was a winner when I saw the ingredients, especially garlic and balsamic vinegar.  And it’s so easy.  And so good.

A note on oil: this recipe calls for olive oil, and I do love olive oil.  But it’s not necessarily safe to heat olive oil.  Many agree that olive oil should not be heated above medium-high on the stove, but others believe it can become carcinogenic with even less heat and eschew heating it at all.  At any rate, to be safe, canola oil would make a fine swap here.  And don’t hate on (real, pure) canola oil.  It’s from mustard seed, and it’s good for you!  (This from my husband, the plant aficionado.)


I paired this with a vegan not-steak, but I think there’s probably not much out there this wouldn’t go with.


What are you eating this summer?

Written by Ann

June 20, 2013 at 10:09 pm

marinated antipasti skewers

with 4 comments


As today’s heat index soared over 100 degrees, I was once again reminded that on days like these I can hardly bear to make or eat anything that involves heating.  Even though it wasn’t quite so hot on Memorial Day weekend, it was still pretty warm, and I chose to make these easy (and cool!) marinated antipasti skewers for a late-afternoon cookout with friends.


The ingredients are simple, and the winning ingredient is the fresh herb(s).  In this particular batch we used oregano, since that’s what we had in the garden, but basil and/or parsley are also lovely.  Go crazy.

Marinated Antipasti Skewers


Red bell pepper, cubed

Mozzarella, cubed

Large black olives, pitted


1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2-4 cloves garlic, minced

2-4 tablespoons freshly chopped oregano, basil, and/or parsley

1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Salt to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients and adjust seasonings.  (We are very liberal with the black pepper.)  Prepare skewer ingredients and toss into the marinade.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or two.  (The longer the chill, the better the flavors marry and absorb.)  When you’re ready to serve, alternate red peppers, mozzarella, and olives on skewers.



P.S.  These skewers + Ellen’s gin-champagne lemonade = a winning combination.

Written by Ann

June 13, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Posted in eating

ellen’s gin-champagne lemonade

with 2 comments


Earlier this spring, a friend brought this delightful and potent drink to a girls’ night, and when I was deciding on a drink for a Memorial Day cookout, Ellen’s gin-champagne lemonade was a no-brainer.  It’s perfect for a hot summer evening, and it’s super-easy to make.  It’s also super-strong: we won’t judge if you dilute yours with ice or water!

Ellen’s Gin-Champagne Lemonade

1/2 cup lemonade concentrate, thawed

1 cup gin

2 2/3 cups champagne

Lemon for garnish

Mix the lemonade concentrate with the gin and chill.  Before serving, mix in champagne.  Garnish with lemon slices.

(The pitcher above is holding a double-batch.)

Written by Ann

June 13, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Posted in eating

Tagged with

review: the thirsty hippo

leave a comment »

It’s no secret that finding good vegetarian fare in Hattiesburg can be tricky. (That’s why I’ve documented my favorites here.) I’m happy to report that the menu at the recently-reopened Thirsty Hippo is quite vegetarian-friendly and delicious. My favorite is the grilled Brie sandwich (with pepper jelly and spinach!) and the three-bean salad in a lemon-herb vinaigrette. I’m quite sure we’ll spend this summer trying to recreate that bean salad, because it’s pretty much the perfect summer food.

Also delicious is the Banh Mi vegan sausage (served either on bread or a bed of spinach).  I’m looking forward to trying the other vegan sausages and burgers on the menu.


They also serve up an interesting take on hummus: this version is made from red beans and served with lots of fresh veggies.


This place is truly vegetarian/vegan-friendly, and I’m delighted it’s back.

Written by Ann

June 6, 2013 at 8:56 pm